NY State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh
Brian Kavanagh has served as a member of the New York State Assembly since January 2007. He represents 130,000 residents of the 74th Assembly District on the East Side of Manhattan, which runs from Delancey Street to the United Nations and includes parts of the Lower East Side, Union Square, Gramercy, Stuyvesant Square, Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, East Midtown Plaza, Waterside Plaza, Kips Bay, Murray Hill, Tudor City, and Turtle Bay.
Brian was originally elected in 2006 by defeating an incumbent Assemblymember. In 2008 and 2010, the voters chose to return Brian to the Assembly.
Through two decades of work in government, law, and community service, Brian has shown that he can tackle our toughest problems and stand up for progressive values. In the Assembly he has fought to reform State government and make it more responsive to the needs of ordinary New Yorkers. He has focused on legislation and policy changes to create a fairer and more open political process, support affordable housing, protect the environment, promote social and economic justice and a more humane society, prevent gun violence, and provide for greater accountability in the ways government delivers services and spends our tax dollars. Brian has introduced well over 200 bills in the Assembly. Dozens of these bills have passed the Assembly and 18 have been signed into law as of the close of the 2010 legislative session. Brian's work has earned him the League of Conservation Voters Eco-Star Award, the highest rating of any legislator in 2010 from Environmental Advocates of New York, the City University of New York's Baruch College Legislator of the Year Award, and a perfect rating from the League of Humane Voters.
Brian is Chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Election Day Operations and Voter Disenfranchisement and a member of the Committees on Housing; Environmental Conservation; Corporations, Authorities and Commissions; Labor; Election Law; and Cities. He is also a founder and steering committee member of the New York Chapter of State Legislators Against Illegal Guns, and a member of the American-Irish Legislators Society and the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, which includes legislators with a significant number of Latino constituents.
Before serving in the Assembly, as Chief of Staff for New York City Councilmember Gale Brewer, Brian negotiated enactment of the Domestic Worker Protection Act, promoting the rights of housekeepers and caregivers. He drafted several laws enacted by the City to foster the use of technology to make government more accessible and efficient, and another measure to protect property in our neighborhoods from defacement by graffiti and advertising stickers. With then-Councilmember Bill Perkins, Councilmember Brewer, and dozens of their colleagues on the Council, Brian helped to draft and secure passage of Council Resolution 549, opposing the imminent invasion of Iraq.
Brian began government service as an aide to Mayor Ed Koch and has served in three mayoral administrations. After the infamous Happy Land Social Club fire claimed the lives of 87 people in 1990, Brian helped coordinate the city's response to the tragedy on behalf of Mayor David Dinkins, co-designing a task force that shut down the most grievous fire code offenders. At the Mayor's Office, Brian also played a key role in launching the Department of Homeless Services, and he then served as the agency's first Policy Director.
Brian is admitted to the practice of law in New York State and in the federal courts. As an attorney at Kaye Scholer and Schulte Roth & Zabel, two of New York's top law firms, Brian's work included enforcement of antitrust laws and extensive pro bono representation of victims of domestic violence, immigrants, and community organizations. He successfully represented employee benefit funds against employers that refused to pay the pension and health benefits their workers had earned, and he was part of the legal team that won death row clemency for a Virginia inmate. Previously, he performed critical research for a lawsuit that resulted in a multi-million dollar verdict against corporate polluters.
Brian has served as a counselor, volunteer, and board member at the Lower East Side's Nativity middle school and community center, on advisory boards of several other schools and nonprofits, and as a board member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, which places college graduates in full-time volunteer positions promoting social justice and community empowerment. He has also worked as an attorney and advocate at Demos, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, on a nationwide effort to secure the voting rights of low-income citizens. He is a member of the New York City Bar Association and has served on the Association's Election Law Committee.
One of six children of an Irish-immigrant police officer and a community leader who worked at a local newspaper, Brian is a lifelong resident of New York City. He attended Regis High School and Princeton University on scholarship and earned his law degree from New York University, where he was a Dean's Scholar.